Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New beginnings

Years are made of days, which tick by like the minutes on a clock. Seasons pass as our planet completes its trek around the sun. And then, it starts all over again. Our world is constantly being reborn.

A year can bring great joy and deep sadness. We affect these matters by how we choose to spend our days, hours, and minutes. Time is too precious to be wasted.

Humans have the ability to decide what they will do. There are always opportunities, and the successful make their own luck. The wise will learn from the past, look to the future, but live in the present.

To give up, is to stop the clock. The will fails when the heart falters. It is easier to keep going, than to start again.

But sometimes the direction is wrong, though the goal is the same. At times like these, it is necessary to change course. Rather than plow through the wall, you could just go around.

These decisions are never easy, and it takes determination to see progress. The world can knock you flat on your back. But take courage, for you have but to rise and begin anew. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A day like no other

There is no day like Christmas. It is that one time of year where there are tidings of peace and good will. And these feelings persist even beyond the chaos that ensues.

It is a time for family: the one day left to be enjoyed by nearly everyone. Is it really the gifts which bring us together? Or is it something much deeper?

Lights glowing on a decorated tree draw the eye like few other things. Objects in colored wrapping paper adorned with bows gather like fascinated onlookers. They have come to see the glorious spectacle and to wonder at what it means.

Music is made especially for this celebration. And some of these songs have been sung for a very long time. While they can be overplayed, we wish to hear them when the season comes again.

And nothing brings the light to a child’s eyes like seeing an assortment of gifts just waiting to be opened. The image lasts for but a moment, before colored paper is rent asunder to reveal what had been concealed. And children’s faces are painted with joy, while there is a look of contentment in the eyes of the parents.

It is a day for giving and receiving; for loving and being loved.  It is a time to think of others and be grateful for what you have.  Rejoice with me in this merriest of days, and treasure the chance to come together if only for the briefest of moments.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The gift and the thought

What does it mean to give of yourself? Do you give money or time? Perhaps you impart knowledge or just provide support. Whatever a person gives, their dearest wish is that it be appreciated.

It is not the gift, but the thought that counts. But how often do we really think about what we give? Conversely, how often do we really ponder what we have received? Human beings tend to love the praise garnered from giving, but tend not to appreciate what they have been given.

A penny may seem like a cheap gift, but if that is all a person has it becomes precious indeed. Any decent person would refuse it, or seek to reward the one who gave it. The price tag does not matter: true giving comes from the heart.

It is not good to be overly generous. Either that person will be taken advantage of, or they are trying to gain advantage with their contributions. If you are posing for the camera, chances are your real gift is to yourself.

If no one knows, your motives are more likely to be genuine. If someone discovers what you have done, a simple ‘thank you’ should suffice. It is too easy to succumb to vainglory. Guard against it at all costs.

When the gift is unappreciated, it is best to move on. Not everyone will be grateful, and few will return a favor. But there are those jewels among humanity who will think about what they have received and seek to give back in full measure. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Overcoming obstacles

What do you do when the words will not come? Or even if they do, your heart is not in it. When engaged in a creative activity, your mood can seriously affect the outcome. If it is miserable to write, it could be miserable to read.

‘Writer’s block’ is just an obstacle. And such things exist to be overcome. You have written before and you will write again. Right now, you just need something to get the juices flowing.

When this happens, I usually attempt to finish what I am working on. If it cannot be completed, then it must be put aside for its own good. I sit down and start writing something purely for enjoyment.

The subject matter may be lurid, and the work overly dramatic. The action could be gratuitous, and the plot as thin as a piece of paper. It matters not. What is important is to relax and have fun.

It has been said that when you write a first draft, it is just to get everything on the page. You can always go back later and smooth things out. But first, there must be something worth the toil that will be necessary to make the silk purse out of the sow’s ear.

There is that magical moment when your eyes are wide and you are typing as fast as your fingers will go. You remember how much you really love to write. The barrier has been broken and the words once more flow freely.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Heart of the matter

Good art touches the heart. It stirs up the passions and fills one with wonder. Ideas are dead of themselves. It is the depth of feeling conveyed which makes all the difference.

Whether it is a painting, poem, story or movie; we have all witnessed art that is lifeless. Often it is because the artist’s head was full while their heart was empty. People can sense where there is a void, and will avoid such a place.

However, there are instances where the idea is weak but the heart is strong. It does not matter if the concept is overused, or ill-used or abused to the point one can barely even recognize it. With heart, anything can become something.

Inspiration cannot be forced. People try to impress with their ideas. No matter how well preserved, a corpse is still a corpse. And it should be buried, before the stench becomes overwhelming.

Pride is belief in a false concept. And once light shines upon it, the truth is known. It is the same with a work based merely on ideas. A slight nudge will topple the whole thing.

Thinking does not make the blood flow... that requires a heart. Feelings go deeper than notions, and art is the expression of what is within. Always strive to make the work so full of life that you can almost hear it beat.